Luring vs Mark Reward Training

reward training

Bev Maahs KPACTP


Baby Wolfy finding treats in Nina Ottosen Game, the Brick.

I have links provided below on articles written on the points I am bringing up. Luring to get behavior  is to show food, (here is a cookie, come, get food) or do this and you will get the food Luring is good way to get a behavior, if not an established behavior, but not to maintain a behavior. If the food is not there, likely the behavior is not either. Luring, when used, should be faded out as soon as possible.  In the case of a puppy lured down, It is best to lure only 3 times, then move to cue, (hand that does not have food, but looks the same) going to floor and then mark, or click and treat (reinforce). Luring works well with young dogs or dogs that don’t have an idea what is being asked of them. This is most likely they have never been asked before to do a behavior, for instance down. Using a lure, (piece of food in my hand, I would signal, by making sure the dog sees my hand in front of them with a piece of tasty food in my hand and slowly, not using a fast gesture, but slow and smoothly signal the dog to down. Directly in front of the dog, within a foot, take the lure, piece of food in hand, and put my hand to the floor. Most likely the dog would follow the food in the hand, either by going into a down, or figuring out how to get the food. Yes, sometimes they have the front down, and not the back, and try to chomp through your hands, depending on the dog! Once the dog gets the idea, that you want them to lie down, you do not need to use a lure anymore. Here is Karen Pryor on luring Gale Pryor discusses Luring and targeting.

Using or going to Marker training as soon as possible helps the learner, to think about the behavior to get the reward. For this article we use marker reward or click & treat, as a reinforcer for doing the behavior, it is immediate. So we are in fact reinforcing the behavior right away. The use of the word reward, for simplicity in this case is immediate. Here Karen Pryor explains Clicker training. As a trainer who teaches people to use a marker (clicker) and reward method. I teach and use this method the most.

  1. Antecedent, (Cue)
  2. Behavior
  3. Consequence (Mark and Reward)

When teaching a new behavior it is very important to click and treat every time the dog is cued for a behavior and does the behavior correctly. (charging the clicker) This is marking and rewarding. When the behavior is learned then you can go to a variable reinforcement schedule. When is a behavior learned? When they reliably do the behavior that is cued, for instance, if my dog will sit, when I give a hand signal, verbal cue, and has duration, fluency (one more) then I can put them on a variable reinforcement schedule.What is that? This is when they sit when I ask and I either, reward with praise, (if this is rewarding to the dog) petting, again if perceived as a good thing by the dog. Or rewarding with food occasionally. Both methods have been used, and work.

Luring, needs to be phased out quickly to not be dependent on food, (and a valid criticism), is you need food to get behavior.

Mark reward training, gets results, and is better for teaching the learner, and has valid criticism from trainers, that do not know how to get beyond the click and treat stage.

Some people dislike the use of food, and or reinforcing behaviors. Variable reinforcement explained The methods described can be used effectively, and the point is what is the reinforcer? Most people use food, as this is the most reinforcing to the learner. But, I do use toys as reinforcer, as long as there is a reinforcer is meaningful to the dog.

Should a trainer not reward a dog for a cued behavior in the training stage? Would you work without getting paid?

Kay Laurence on rewards Both of these methods are effective, for learning behaviors, luring is if the dog has not training at all. Frequently used in puppy behaviors.  Mark reward training creates a dog that thinks before the reward.  Cue, behavior, (dog does behavior correctly)  mark and reward. Using the best method for your dog that you are training is important, so both ways to get behaviors are something trainers should know how to use effectively.